School of Graduate Studies

School of Graduate Studies
School of Graduate Studies

Teaching & Supervision

It is important to support students beyond academics, and the following are some recommendations, resources and policies to help you support your students.

Best Practices in Supervision

Graduate educators provide guidance, advice and mentorship to our students. The most critical relationship in determining the quality of the graduate experience is the relationship between the graduate student and his or her faculty supervisor. The Guide to Graduate Supervision outlines roles, responsibilities and expectations that support a healthy and productive collaboration that supports students to timely completion. Links to the Guide and other resources that you may find useful to support you in your role as supervisor are provide below.

Accommodating Students with Disabilities

The School of Graduate Studies is committed to accommodating graduate students with disabilities. For more information, see the Accommodations policy and the Graduate Handbook on Accommodating Students with Disabilities.

Work of the National Graduate Experience Taskforce

Queen's Student Wellness Services

Student Wellness Services has two resources to assist supervisors in fostering a healthy relationship with your student. Supervisors and students shared ideas to produce these booklets:

The Cross-Cultural Advisor at Student Wellness Services and can provide advice to faculty, staff and students on cross-cultural transitions. Get more details at the Queen's University International Centre Training webpage.

SGS Habitat

The SGS Habitat is a one-stop-shop for resources for being well and staying well in grad school. It won the 2015 Canadian Association for Graduate Studies Award for Excellence and Innovation in Enhancing the Graduate Student Experience. 

Helping Students in distress

As supervisors and teachers of graduate students, you may encounter students in distress.  Student Wellness Services thas provided this valuable list of signs of students in distress:

What to Look for: 

  • Significant changes in academic performance, including deterioration in quality of work, frequent missed assignments, excessive procrastination, or avoidance of classroom participation
  • Increased class absences or tardiness
  • Listlessness, lack of energy, or falling asleep in class
  • Unusual or bizarre behavior, including unexplained crying, laughing to self, very rapid speech, disorganized thinking, suspiciousness
  • High levels of irritability, including angry outbursts or unruly behavior
  • Significant weight loss or weight gain
  • Complaints about physical symptoms, including nausea, stomach aches,headaches, or problems with eating or sleeping
  • Marked changes in personal hygiene or dress
  • Direct or indirect references to either suicide or intention to harm or kill another person
  • Changes or disturbances in personal relationships
  • Visible signs of anxiety or depressed mood
  • Talking explicitly about hopelessness or suicide
  • Difficulty concentrating, difficulty carrying on normal conversation
  • Social isolation, social withdrawal or "excessive" dependency on Dons,Professors, or TA's
  • Excessive sleeping, internet use/gaming
  • Significant changes in personal, sexual or cultural identity

If you think that your student is in distress:

  1. It's OK to ask - Provided you are coming from a place of concern, you are likely to get a good response; remember it is better to be embarrassed about the asking or about the response than be remorseful or regretful about not having asked
  2. Pick a good place and time to have the conversation - If you are going to have a conversation, choose to do so when and where the barriers to opening up are fewest. Seek a quiet, private moment to talk to the student.
  3. Say what you see - Talk to the student about what you have seen and express concern ("I've noticed that you seem to be less interested in eating these days; is everything ok?") Don't work on the basis of assumptions about the student's behaviour or feelings.
  4. Be prepared for the possibility of denial of difficulty - Students (like the rest of us) are not always ready to talk about their concerns. If this happens, it means "not now". Respect that.
  5. Trust your instincts - Even if a student denies that there is a difficulty, keep on trusting yourself. You might say "OK, please know that I am concerned about the way that you seem these days". Let them know that you are concerned and that you want to be of support.
  6. "Keep the door open" - If at all possible, the student should leave the interaction feeling it is safe to approach you again in the future.
  7. Remember your resources - If you are uncomfortable or uncertain after your interaction with a student, remember there are resources on campus that you can call on. In situations like these please call the Counselling Service (32506) and ask to speak to the Director, the Associate Director (Dr. Carol Harris) the Cross-Cultural Advisor (Dr. Arunima Khanna) or the Clinical Psychologist (Dr. Chuck Vetere).

Student Wellness Services is located in the Lasalle Building on Stuart Street. The material on this page is taken from the Student Wellness brochure "If you think a Student is in Distress".

Medical leave, parental leave and vacation 

I am expecting/adopting a child. What are my options?

(see Maternity and Parental Leave in the SGS Calendar)

Though people may deal with family responsibilities differently depending on their unique needs and sources of support, one option available to new parents is maternity/parental leave.  You can change your registration status to "inactive" for up to two terms. Keep in mind that both parents are entitled to parental leave and mothers are entitled to a maternity leave. Leaves are usually taken during the first year of the child's life. A fee waiver for the period of the leave is granted through the School of Graduate Studies. Please check with any outside funding agency that may be providing you with awards for any regulations the agency may have regarding leaves.

How will my time to completion be affected if I must take a leave (e.g. maternity/parental leave; a leave for accommodation related to human rights grounds such as disability or gender identity; or other sanctioned leave?)

A leave that changes your registration status to ‘inactive', stops the clock for the period of time for which the leave has been granted. In other words, the terms spent inactive are not counted in the number of terms taken to complete your degree. Also, your eligibility for financial support through the School of Graduate Studies will be extended by the period of time taken for the leave since awards from internal sources are suspended during the period of the leave.

Please complete a Change in Status form (PDF, 56 KB) and provide the completed form to the Director, Admissions and Student Services by email to  or drop it off at the School on the fourth floor of Gordon Hall, 74 Union Street.

New Policies - Sexual Violence & Interim Harrassment & Discrimination

Recently there have been two policies undergoing changes

Sexual Assault Policy - approved on 2nd December 2016

Interim Harassment and Discrimination Policy & Procedures

As students are also employees, you should be aware of this policy

Mental health online module for grad students